Why a 100-400mm Lens is the Ultimate Landscape Photography Telephoto Lens

Should you get the 70-200mm or the 100-400mm telephoto zoom lens for landscape photography? That is a great question.

I have been using the Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM lens for about half a year for my landscape photography, and I absolutely love it. I had some caveats getting this lens, but by now, I do not regret it. In the above video, I share my thoughts on why this focal range is just so great. The video is not just about the Sony lens but all 100-400mm lenses. One thing I do not mention in the video is the fact that this lens is an “upgrade” to the 70-200mm focal range. The 100-400mm needs to do both the job of a 70-200mm and the 200-400mm, and besides the 30mm on the broad end, this lens obviously delivers. Besides the focal range, aperture is also a big difference. As for landscape photography, it does not really matter that the 100-400mm lenses have a variable aperture. After all, you will likely have to stop down to get everything in focus anyway and find the sharpness sweet spot of your specific lens.

I do talk about the benefits of the 100-400mm lens, and many of the benefits are the same as the 70-200mm lens, just “more.” After all, the 100-400mm lens is just a 70-200mm on steroids, as the lens is bigger and the focal range is larger. Among others, I talk about how it is good for simplifying your photos, how it works fantastically as a macro lens and for photographing intimate details, and how it can really make some dramatic compression effects.

Check out the video above and let me hear if you are considering getting the 100-400mm lens. Sigma has just released its new version for the full-frame Sony mirrorless system, and the price is much better than anything Canon, Nikon, or Sony have for their 100-400mm lenses.

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22 Comments

Deleted Account's picture

I've wanted to get the Nikkor 80-400mm lens ever since the newer version came out in 2013 but there're over 2000 reasons why I haven't, yet. I just wouldn't use it enough to justify the cost. <sigh>

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Yeah, the cost of the native lenses are outrageous, I'm very happy Sigma throws some competition into this market!

Deleted Account's picture

Personally, I wouldn't have a Sigma lens and Sigma and Tamron's 100-400 lenses, in particular, aren't very good compared to some of their other offerings.

Jordan Inglee's picture

100-400 are just so damn big though Mads, but yeah telehoto compressions is where's it at! I'm a Nikon guy and I personally use their new 70-300 AF-P f4-5.6 which is smaller than a 70-200 f2.8!

Mike Nguyen's picture

The Sigma/Tamron 100-400s are all about the same size as the 70-300 AF-P, mostly because they usually have apertures in the f/5-6.3 range versus f/4-5.6 of the first party versions.

Jordan Inglee's picture

Hmm - I'll look into those but TBH, I love the 70-300 on my d850 and Z6.

Mads Peter Iversen's picture

Yes, size really matters in regard to practicality. I've gotten used to my 100-400 now, but when I picked up the 70-200 f/4 to film this video it felt so tiny... however, surprisingly heavy. My Canon 70-200 f/4 non-IS is super light :)

Jordan Inglee's picture

Do you pack the 100-400 with you on a regular basis?

Jerome Brill's picture

Definitely one of my favorite lenses. I just got back from my yearly BWCA trip. I didn't use it as much as I wanted but I still got a few photos.The bald eagle shot was handheld from a canoe at 330mm. 1/3 of the photo is cropped. It's a busy image but sharp nonetheless.

I will say to stop down to f/6.3 in most cases on the longer end. f/5.6 is just a bit soft and you're better off just going with a slightly higher ISO. It's still a fantastic lens.

Deleted Account's picture

I suppose it could have been done with a shorter lens but I really like that last shot!

Jerome Brill's picture

Thanks. That one is only at 100mm. I was taking photos of the sunset from the shore area of our campsite. The other two in our party were enjoying the view also. I ended up looking over and saw this intimate shot.

John Adams's picture

No way this lens is "a bit" soft whatever you mean by that. You either didn't stabilized it probably or your SS wasn't good enough.

Jerome Brill's picture

I mean that eagle was at f/5.6. When it comes to wildlife, it could always be sharper :). You're not going to tell when I export to 1600px but on a 42mp camera it makes a difference.

SS does play a roll. Honestly that lens just doesn't take in enough light. You are constantly trying to balance your settings in any given situation. I was also at ISO100 from a previous shot and not on auto so I ended up getting a burst of 15 shots at 1/650 of a second. Had I had my iso on auto which I normally set capped at 2000 I might have gone up to 1/1200+ a second but the difference might have been negligible. Since the a7riii is iso invariant I was able to bring the image back up 2.5 stops in post and you can see it's still great. At 2000 I'm not sure how much noise it would have had.

But again it's all situational. I saw this eagle and had only seconds to react.

Jeroen F's picture

I think 100-400mm on FF is still to short for wildlife. So why would this zoom range be ultimate for me?

Jordan Inglee's picture

Well to be fair... Mads Peter Iversen is saying it’s the ultimate LANDSCAPE telephoto...

Jeroen F's picture

Thx, I see.
To be fair I have a 150mm equivalent and think it's a little bit to much reach for landscape. But it all depends what your trying to shoot.

Bottom line: there is no ultimate lens for x or y.

Deleted Account's picture

It depends on the x and y. 100-400 is great for whale watching tours, certain large mammals and zoo outings (along with a mid-range zoom).

EDWIN GENAUX's picture

No one ever compares to the 24-240 f/3.5-6.3!! I do not have either the 70-200 or 100-400 BUT the 24-240 (to 360 APS-C) is a sharp lens at f/11 to f/16. I use for sunrises 24mm then walking back through a marsh early morning goto 360 for some birding and other wildlife or a zoom on a shrimp boat at sea. No not a 2.8 but a great starter lens and easy to carry in a teardrop over the shoulder bag with camera and some gear, also IS even better with a IBIS camera. Also good for a closeup like macro close focus point. A G or GM lens is great to have great glass and build but other sony lenses are good also, maybe not for a pro but for travel - small for the range. And as far as the bokeh post programs like ON1 Photo RAW have a two blur types and a AI Masking option that will get it.

Toby Seb's picture

Pair it with a tele coverter and you have the utlimate set for landscape.

Hans J. Nielsen's picture

Just a clarification question.
When he speaks of "macro photography", what he means is greater than life reproduction via print, and not micro as a reproduction ratio on the censor, as I think of when hearing the word "macro".
Right?

Andres Cifuentes's picture

Great video and images as usual Mads. I’ve been thinking about this focal range for a while now but have trouble stomaching the cost. Using an aps c system (fujifilm) what do you think about going for the 50-140f2.8 to get the classic 70-200 range but then also getting the 2x tc for it which would make it a 100-280 or roughly 100-400 in full frame terms as well. I realize there’s somewhat of a penalty with the tc, but apparently it’s not that bad in the case of this particular lens.